Life -- a gift from God [Excerpts]
"I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly, I will not give a woman an abortive remedy" -- The Hippocratic Oath.
These words, penned approximately four centuries before Christ, still hold immense relevance today. Their writer was Hippocrates . . . who is often considered to be "the father of medicine."He was at odds with his contemporaries on the issue of the sanctity of human life -- Socrates, another ancient Greek philosopher who lived during Hippocrates' time, ended his life by drinking deadly hemlock. Socrates did not believe in any higher purpose beyond human society, a notion sadly reflected in much of today's world.
The belief that we have evolved from simpler creatures is often used to justify the rejection of God as Creator and hence the rejection of His authority through His Law. Without God, life becomes purposeless. Disability, suffering and the terminal stages of life are viewed as meaningless. This is a contributing cause to the "culture of death" that is affecting the Western world . . .
The increasing acceptance of euthanasia is part of this shift in mentality towards the "culture of death." The world has watched the courts of the United States recently rule that a disabled person, Terri Schiavo, should die by starvation and dehydration . . . . The truth is that people have lost their sense of what it means to be human. Life, instead of being a precious gift, becomes evaluated according to its "quality." A person whilst young, active and productive has a high "quality of life", yet once this person becomes old, disabled or dependent, the quality is reduced, and his or her life may no longer be considered to be worth living or protecting.
Echoes of this sentiment are also found in Clint Eastwood's popular movie, Million Dollar Baby. The main character, a female boxer, starts out bold and successful, but ends up suffering a high level spinal cord injury leaving her permanently disabled, dependent on a ventilator (breathing machine) and unable to move her limbs. For her, the loss of her previous abilities is too much and she seeks death, and her ventilator is switched off in what is depicted by Hollywood as a profound act of compassion. (It is interesting to note that the Third Reich used similar films to promote acceptance of euthanasia prior to the extermination of the disabled and the mentally handicapped in Nazi Germany). Far from being compassionate, the medical [caretakers] have simply taken the easy way out. Rather than supporting her through her illness and allowing her to adjust to life's circumstances, they assist in killing her. Such an act rejects the essential aspect that her life is not her own to take. Made in God's image, she has no right to destroy her own life, or permit others to do so, whatever her situation.
The story of Job in the Bible recounts how he refused to "curse God and die" despite this counsel being given to him many times. This was because Job feared God and understood that only He has the authority to give and to take life. Even if all joy is taken out of life, as was the case with Job, that still would not justify the taking of life. Even in the depths of suffering, God's image remains, and life remains an intrinsic good, worthy of protection and support (Dr Mathew Piercy, Answers in Genesis, 22 April 2005).